Former UUA President Rev. Dr. John A* Buehrens' Less Than Excellent Ministry. . .
Here is former UUA President John Buehrens' angry "dressing down" which responds to my follow-up letter responding to his initial negligent and effectively complicit response to my first letter of grievance informing him of the fact that Rev. Ray Drennan had falsely and maliciously labeled Creation day as "your cult", contemptuously dismissed my revelatory religious experience as "your psychotic experience", and sneeringly written off my monotheistic religious beliefs that were informed by that alleged "psychotic experience" as nothing but "silliness and fantasy" -
Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations
25 Beacon Street, Boston, Massachusetts 02108
The Rev. Dr. John A. Buehrens
(617) 742-2100 FAX (617) 367-3237
May 6, 1996
15 rue Lafleur apt. 11
CANADA, H4G 3C3
Dear Mr. Edgar:
Your actions on Sunday, April 21, were, by your own description, quite reprehensible.
It is inappropriate to use the time set aside in community worship for "joys and concerns" to speak in derogation of the minister, no matter how disappointed you may feel in him. Handing out letters to the same effect following the service is also entirely out of bounds.
Historically, other congregations that have had such behavior from congregants have been forced to remove such persons from membership and to ask help from secular authorities in seeing to it that their worship is not disrupted.
As I have told you before, the Unitarian Universalist Association does not require that its ministers see to it that a member's "claim of a revelatory religious experience be properly documented and critically examined." We are also under no obligation to share with other religious communities any message from a person who has behaved as you have.
You lack a basic understanding of, and respect for, the procedures of a democratically governed religious community. The minister, having been chosen by that community, is not to be publicly attacked. One may challenge privately, and discuss concerns through other channels established by the congregation. One may not behave as you have done.
John A. Buehrens
cc. The Rev. Ray Drennan
President of the Unitarian Church of Montreal
The Rev. Wendy Colby, St. Lawrence District
Here is my response to UUA President Reverend "Doctor" John A* Buehrens "less than excellent" ministry as expressed in the above letter -
15 rue Lafleur apt. 11
Canada, H4G 3C3
Dr. John A. Buehrens
President of the Unitarian
25 Beacon Street, Boston, MA
Wodensday May 15, 1996
Dear Dr. Buehrens,
You say that the fact that I brought my very serious concerns about Rev. Ray Drennan's clearly unprofessional, demeaning, and damaging comportment towards me to the attention of the congregation of the Unitarian Church of Montreal during the "Joys and Concerns" segment of the Sunday, April 21, service and the fact that, after the service was concluded, I distributed a letter which called upon the members of the congregation to directly intervene in this matter was "quite reprehensible" and "entirely out of bounds". May I point out to you that the primary reason that I felt obliged to take this step was that none of the clergy or elected representatives of the Unitarian Church of Montreal, the Canadian Unitarian Council, or the Unitarian Universalist Association who I complained to took steps to ensure that Unitarian Universalist principles were upheld and that genuine justice was effectively achieved in this matter.
Mr. John Slattery, President of the Canadian Unitarian Council, made it clear that the CUC could not help me in regards to my complaint about the unprofessional conduct of Rev. Ray Drennan because the CUC "is based on the principle of congregational polity" and that this means that, in practice, "the CUC president, Board and staff do not have the authority to intervene in the internal affairs of any of our member congregations. Only the congregation as a whole, operating within its own bylaws, has the ultimate say in determining how it should conduct its affairs."
You, yourself, wrote that the UUA "does not intervene in local matters unless asked to do so by the congregation's board. They have not done so." The Board of the Unitarian Church of Montreal failed to respond to my obviously very serious grievances in even a remotely satisfactory manner, the Board simply acknowledged the "strength of (my) feelings regarding Rev. Drennan's behaviour as well as the depth of (my) belief in (my) revelatory experience" and concluded by lamely stating, "We hereby take note of your views." There was no indication whatsoever that the Board made any attempt to persuade Rev. Ray Drennan to retract his damaging allegations about me and to formally apologize to me for his unprofessional and demeaning comportment towards me, nor was there any apparent move by the Board towards any responsible mediation of this dispute.
Perhaps I should have informed you that, in a letter which Board President Krystyna Matula assured me was read during the April Board meeting (copy enclosed), I formally warned the Board of the Unitarian Church of Montreal that I would bring my grievances to the attention of the congregation of our church as a result of the failure of the Board to respond to my grievances in a satisfactory manner. Not a single Board member suggested that such an action would be "quite reprehehensible" or "entirely out of bounds" nor did the Board take any further steps to properly address my clearly stated dissatisfaction over its failure to respond in a genuinely responsible manner to my letter of grievance which clearly detailed Rev. Ray Drennan's deplorable comportment towards me. When I aired my grievances to the congregation, more than ten days after my clear warning of this, several congregation members expressed their concern and one former Board member said that "it took guts" for me to air, to the congregation as a whole, the demeaning and damaging allegations that Rev. Drennan has made about me. Not one member of our congregation indicated to me that my action was inappropriate. In view of all the foregoing I feel that I was perfectly justified in airing my very serious concerns to our congregation as a whole.
When the clergy, elected representatives, or the "procedures" of a democratically governed religious community fail to adequately respond to the legitimate concerns of any member of that community then, in my view, they have a clear right, if not a responsibility, to air their concerns to their religious community as a whole. You have said that, "One may challenge privately, and discuss concerns through other channels established by the congregation. One may not behave as you have done." The fact of the matter is that I took the steps you suggest as I have clearly indicated in the letters that I have written. As I wrote in my letter of complaint of Wodensday, February 14, during a meeting with him in his office on February 1, I "privately challenged" Rev. Drennan about his deplorable conduct during our meeting of Thursday, November 9, 1996. Regrettably, Rev. Drennan made it clear to me that he stood by his demeaning words and damaging allegation about me and reasserted that he was "just being honest" with me. It was evident from his attitude that there was no point requesting an apology from him at this stage and I said as much to him. I also made it clear to him that I would take steps to see to it that my grievances about his conduct towards me were addressed. He chose to ignore my warning. I formally aired my grievances about Rev. Ray Drennan's deplorable conduct towards me to the Board of the Unitarian Church of Montreal in my letter of Wednesday, February 14, 1996, which both you and President John Slattery received copies of, but these very serious grievances were, for all intents and purposes, effectively swept under the carpet by the Board as their written response, and their failure to implement any conflict resolution procedures, clearly indicates. It is the irresponsible failure of the Board of the Unitarian Church of Montreal to establish appropriate channels through which my very serious concerns about Rev. Drennan's behaviour could be discussed which left me with little option but to bring my grievances to the attention of the congregation as a whole and about the only channel that was left open to me to do this was during "joys and concerns".
It is, in my view, quite reprehensible, to use your terminology, that Unitarian Universalist clergy and elected representatives have attemped to "whitewash" Rev. Ray Drennan's deplorable behaviour, -behaviour which is in obvious violation of several clearly stated Unitarian Universalist aims and principles, and have endeavoured to sweep this extremely regrettable matter under the proverbial carpet. John Slattery had the good sense and political astuteness not to suggest, in any way, shape, or form, that Rev. Drennan's behaviour towards me was acceptable professional conduct by a Unitarian Universalist minister. Even the Board of the Unitarian Church of Montreal did not overtly condone Rev. Drennan's behaviour although their failure to condemn it may be interpreted as tacit approval of his behaviour, as I pointed out to them in my letter of Wodensday, April 3. You and Rev. Diane Miller, on the other hand, have made statements which have every appearance of condoning Rev. Ray Drennan's unprofessional, demeaning, and damaging conduct.
Regarding my February 14, 1996, letter of complaint to the Board of the Unitarian Church of Montreal you have said, "I must tell you that my own examination of it leads me to believe that there is nothing in it which warrants investigation." Rev. Diane Miller, after sharing my complaint with Rev. Drennan and reviewing it with the chairperson of the Ministerial Fellowship Committee, has responded, "While we recognize that your expectations of ministry are not being met in your relationship with the Rev. Drennan, we did not see cause to further investigate the minister's conduct. It seemed to us to be within the appropriate guidelines of ministerial leadership." I mailed my response to Rev. Miller on Monday, the day before I received your latest letter, and I am enclosing a copy for your perusal. I would hope that, on further reflection, both you and Rev. Miller will agree that Rev. Ray Drennan's deplorable behaviour, as it is described in considerable detail in my letter of February 14, 1996, can hardly be considered "to be within the appropriate guidelines of ministerial leadership."
I find it difficult to believe that you and Rev. Miller genuinely believe that Rev. Ray Drennan's comportment towards me, as I have described it, is actually "within the appropriate guidelines of ministerial leadership." I can only assume that Rev. Drennan has somehow managed to convince both of you that my description of his behaviour is false. I have affirmed the truthfulness and accuracy of this description in the second paragraph of my letter to Rev. Miller, which you may wish to read, and I reiterate to you that if Rev. Drennan has denied making any of these statements he is lying.
It should be obvious to any reasonable person that it is Rev. Ray Drennan's obstinate refusal to acknowledge the damaging nature of his false allegations about me and his extremely negative and demeaning statements about my religious beliefs; his failure to retract these statements; and his stubborn unwillingness to agree to formally apologize to me for his deplorable behaviour, that has brought us to this rather sad state of affairs. Unfortunately, your responses to my correspondence will clearly do nothing to encourage Rev. Drennan to retract his damaging statements or apologize to me.
I find it incongruous, to say the very least, that you have the temerity to describe my calm and dignified plea to the congregation of the Unitarian Church of Montreal to intervene in my dispute with Rev. Ray Drennan, during a segment of the service which is clearly intended to be one in which concerns of a quite serious nature may be raised, as "quite reprehensible" and that you may describe my handing out of a letter to this effect after the service was concluded as "entirely out of bounds" yet you are apparently totally unwilling or completely incapable of perceiving that Rev. Drennan's comportment towards me during our meeting on Thursday, November 9, 1995, to say nothing of his behaviour on a number of other occasions, is considerably more meritous of being described as "quite reprehensible" and is most assuredly "entirely out of bounds" of "the appropriate guidelines of ministerial leadership."
You conclude your letter to me by saying of my actions on Sunday, April 21, "One may not behave as you have done." Are you not capable of seeing that you could, more justifiably, use these words to reprimand Rev. Ray Drennan for his "quite reprehensible" actions on Thursday, November 9, 1995 and that if you had done so that I would most likely not have found myself in a position where I felt that I had few options left open to me but to bring this highly regrettable matter to the attention of our congregation during the "joys and concerns" segment of a Sunday service? I firmly believe that, if you had responded to my serious grievances concerning Rev. Drennan's behaviour towards me by recognizing them as being both truthful and legitimate, if you had quite justifiably reprimanded Rev. Ray Drennan by informing him that you felt that his behaviour towards me, as it is described in my letter of Wednesday February 14, was "quite reprehensible" and had made it clear to him that his deplorable comportment in my apartment was "entirely out of bounds" of the acceptable professional conduct of a Unitarian Universalist minister, and had you told Rev. Ray Drennan that as a Unitarian Universalist minister "One may not behave as you have done," and had recommended that he retract his damaging statements about me and formally apologize to me for his behaviour as I have demanded, this regrettable conflict would hopefully now be well on its way to a satisfactory resolution.
The situation, as it now stands, is far from being satisfactorily resolved. The inability of the Canadian Unitarian Council and the Unitarian Universalist Association to constructively intervene in this matter, and the failure of the Board of the Unitarian Church of Montreal to take appropriate steps towards resolving this very serious dispute is highly regrettable. I will continue in my efforts to try to find a just and equitable resolution to this conflict by dealing with concerned members of the congregation.
For some strange reason UUA President John A* Buehrens never responded to this "Eat Your Words Diet" response to his own "inappropriate" and "quite reprehensible" response to my serious grievances arising from Rev. Ray Drennan's even more "inappropriate" and "quite reprehensible" anti-religious intolerance and bigotry. . .